Warehouse Theatre, Croydon
The use of an individual to represent
the whole march of history is a common device in drama, but it's
done to exceptional effect in Nicholas McInerny's play which
takes place near Moscow in September 1990 just as the certainties
of the old Soviet Union were being swept away by perestroika.
The particular fly captured in amber here is Galina, the hard-drinking,
high-living, circus-loving daughter of the late President Brezhnev,
no longer the people's hero. McInerny imagines Galina at her
dacha at Shukovo awaiting the arrival of her belongings, confiscated
by the state but now won back in a court case. Aware that she
has no stake in the new Russia, Galina (Fiz Marcus, excellent)
clings deperately to her memories and mementoes. It is Yuri,
the director of the Moscow Circus School, in search of money
to keep the school open who forces Galina to confront her future.
Jonathan Holloway's superb production conjures all the enchantment
and vulgarity of the sawdust ring while underlining the play's
greater pupose of exploring private and public morality. The
centrality of the circus to Russian life ensures that McInerny's
metaphor which parallels the leap into the unknown made by the
high-wire walker with the bravery required by the Russian people
to forge a new future is never strained.